We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. Hebrews 6:19

After receiving my PET CT result last November 25 that showed disease progression, I wrote in my journal questions to God. Why is my healing taking so long? I didn’t understand. I was scared. I was in pain.

All tumors from my chest down to my abdomen grew. The ones in my right kidney were so big; they were protruding on my right abdomen.

29 November 2019

Because I didn’t attain remission, I wasn’t qualified for a stem cell transplant. I needed a different protocol, which would be my 3rd line of treatment for lymphoma.

We decided to have my transplant doctor as my main oncologist. He recommended Keytruda, an intravenous immunotherapy to be infused outpatient every 3 weeks. I would also take orally Ibrutinib, a targeted therapy, and Venetoclax, a chemotherapy, everyday. When I attain remission, I would undergo an allogeneic stem cell transplant, which meant I needed a donor.

On December 3, a femoral vein access was created on my right groin. And, on December 5, I had my 1st Keytruda infusion.

05 December 2019

My oncologist recommended this protocol because although it is pricey, the side effects should be more manageable. But oh, boy! A week after, I was hospitalized because I needed blood transfusion. The weeks that followed, my creatinine climbed up to 2.53 mg/dL (Normal: 0.55-1.02). I had to see a nephrologist and intravenously hydrate myself at home.

Femoral Vein Catheter

I spent Christmas with my mother and my siblings. My father joined us days after to welcome the new year.

Merry Christmas

Happy New Year

Looking back at my 2019, I am humbled and grateful. I am alive because of God’s favor and of the generosity of a lot of people. Looking forward to 2020, I am hopeful for healing and miracles.

On January 8, I had my 2nd Keytruda infusion. That day, we also found out that my brother is not a match for the allogeneic stem cell transplant.

08 January 2020

Two days after my infusion, I started to have chills and fever (Temperature: 39-40 Celsius).

On January 13, I was admitted to the hospital. My procalcitonin was at 97.80 ng/mL (Greater than 2.0: High risk for severe sepsis or septic shock). Scary__! I was given antibiotics and when my blood pressure started to drop, I was given fluid bolus. Also, I was placed on reverse isolation and my femoral vein catheter was removed.

16 January 2020

God must really love me.

I recovered from sepsis or bacteremia quickly. I only realized how dangerous it could’ve been when I went to my infectious disease doctor for a follow-up. He told me that sepsis could lead to multiple organ failure.

On January 29, I had my 3rd Keytruda infusion.

29 January 2020

On February 10, I had my ureteral stent replaced under general anesthesia. It was overdue so a machine for stones was on standby in case of complications.

Upon waking up in the recovery room, the first question I asked my nurse was if the machine was used. It wasn’t. Praise God!

Recovery Room

Old Ureteral Stent

God’s favor didn’t end. Days later, we found out that my sister is a match for the allogeneic stem cell transplant. Best news yet!

On February 18, I had my 4th Keytruda infusion.

18 February 2020

On March 3, I had another PET CT and the results were finally favorable. Thank God!

PET CT

In summary, all my tumors shrank:

  • Mediastinum: 3.5 x 2.8 x 2.4 cm
  • Right Lung: 1.0 x 0.7 x 1.0 cm (from 5.2 x 3.4 x 2.3 cm)
  • Left Lung: 0.6 x 0.5 cm (from 2.0 x 2.2 x 2.5 cm)
  • Right Kidney: 4.0 x 4.1 x 4.2 cm and 3.1 x 2.7 x 2.5 cm (from 11.4 x 7.6 x 7.6 cm and 7.8 x 5.3 x 5.0 cm)
  • Left Kidney: 1.1 x 1.4 cm (from 2.9 x 2.8 x 3.5 cm)

I responded well to my current protocol. The result was even beyond my oncologist’s expectations. I asked if I was in remission. He replied, “Almost there.”

That is probably my happiest and most hopeful almost to date.

God may not have answered why my healing is taking so long, but He has placed a spirit in me that refuses to be broken. And, this is hope.